I had expected worse and felt relieved
to find you so close to your old self,
reminiscing about the good times,
carefully avoiding the bad.
They said you had not smiled this much in many months,
that, maybe, the fog of medication had cleared up at last,
or else, your happiness at seeing me had brought you back.
Back from where?
You were more like yourself than you had been
but it was still a limited version of you:
A little girl locked in an old woman’s body,
not the elegant lady I was so proud to show off in school
(my beautiful mother, still slim after giving birth to seven girls).
Just a shadow of the woman who’d made notes in her diary about Proust,
who was fluent in four languages,
appeared undaunted in any social situation.
Always reticent, you have become more so.
I can only guess at the thoughts in your head.
With people like us,
who were raised to say nothing
if nothing nice could be said,
silence is never a good sign.